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As a social entrepreneur in the BeNeLux my focus lies on a holistic approach for helping companies mature their social media exploits, externally and/or internally. Rogier is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 47 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Social Business done right Valuable Lessons Learned

10.17.2013
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I was going through some photo’s of 2013′s Enterprise 2.0 Summit, for my previous post, and came across this little gem. No, not the louvre, but a slide of Van Marcke’s Phillipe Borremans.

Last March, in Paris (hence the image above), he gave a talk about the social business journey he choreographed for Van Marcke. This particular slide is his “Lessons Learned” slide, a mandatory slide to have I’d say. I enjoyed Philippe’s talk a lot, it was down to earth, realistic and not just theoretical.

These lessons learned are a product of that (now) clear path, and I wanted to share them with you, and dissect their meaning.

Lessons Learned

Audit

Audit the situation before you start makes perfect sense (as do most points on this list). You have to know what you’re up against. You have to know what assets you have, what you can work with. What are the problems (if any, but usually they’re plenty of them, once you start digging).

Creating an inventory ofassets and problems will lay the foundation for the rest of the journey. You can create a map of where you want to go and how you plan to get there.

The C-Suite

You can have change without C-level support. But, you have to start as a disruptor, at the bottom and in obscurity. Fight your way up and into the light. As an individual you might be able to change your way of working, and maybe even your team or department. However, changing the company is almost entirely impossible.

Besides, the changes and plans we’re talking about can only begin at the absolute top. Top management needs to want this change, they need to give the green light, provide you with the necessary means. Meaning time, people, money and other assets.

Plus, they have to engage. Just getting a Go from the CEO is not enough, he or she needs to be part of the change, all the way. I wrote about what happens if they don’t on {grow}.

Long Term Commitment

Social business is not a fad, a trend or a buzz-word. It is inevitable and quite permanent. The sooner you (we, CEO’s) realize this, the better.

Therefore, we plan for the long haul. We plan for the ongoing education and transformation. New employees get trained right away into the new ways, and the process of getting everybody within the company ‘on board’ will be an ongoing process until all have joined.

It sounds diabolical, new world order-ish, but this is the scope we’re dealing with.

Customized

Social is a custom business. Also something we need to get out of the way. All business are created unequal. There are no two alike. There are simply to many variables to consider in any one company.

Yes, we can have best practises and a set of ground rules, like Dion Hinchecliffe’s Ten Tenets. But, they are just that, ground rules, a guide. Something you can shape your transformation around. When taking the first point (Audit) into consideration, you can imagine that what you find during an audit is different within every company. Heck, it’s even different if you audit that same company a year later.

This is a challenge for SocBiz professionals too, every time they come to a new business, they have to start from scratch. A broad experience in different cultures, disciplines and industries is almost a must.

Generation Y

An often brought up topic. I bring them up often enough. We (on a company level) have to prepare ourselves for the inevitable coming of this generation. They’ve grown up with the Internet, it’s always been there (when I was young we 2 channels black & white TV, just to put things in perspective).

But, Gen.Y will not drive the change we seek. They’ll make use of it, they’ll expect it, but they can’t spearhead the change itself. According to Philippe’s findings, you need experience to lead the change, to be the change.

People are your most valuable asset (without them there is no change, or a company for that matter), and your champions are the most valuable people. They are the ones others look to for leadership and guidance. They are the Trojan Mice you plant throughout the company to work from within.

IT No Longer Rules

Traditionally there has always been a huge gap between IT and The Business. Communicating needs and wants between the two has always been difficult. Simply because both speak a different language and see the world in a different light.

There was a time where IT (or ICT) ruled the world. The techies knew and had it all. Heck, when I was an IT Professional it was fun. We practically did what we wanted, ran our own servers and had our won sub networks and proper Internet speeds. Nobody knew, because nobody had a clue as to what we did. As long as their data was available and the PC’s and printers worked, no questions were asked.

And when new software (which we picked) had to be implemented we had the mandate to do it, employees just had to give up their PC and we changed or updated it, put it back and wished them a nice day.

This is no longer the case. ICT supports the business, it puts them in a though spot, but it is the right place to be.

Instead of asking IT what software we need to do a certain job, we now find the software to solve a set of very specific issues. It is completely supportive to the business and it’s employees. The business goals are the mandate, not the perceived reality of a department less in touch with the business.

Good Lessons

As I said, these are a few very good lessons learned. When you think about them, they seem very obvious, but they are not. Many a business just jumps into the fray. Like with Social Media, ticking of the boxes on a list they found on the Web, or having an intern just do their social. Social business is something most will want, they might even understand why they want it.

But many will make exactly those mistakes we try to avoid.

Don’t waste your time and money. When you choose to start your Social Business journey. Do it right.

Published at DZone with permission of Rogier Noort, author and DZone MVB.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)